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Adventurous Tapas at Yatai's Charming Hideaway

There are some restaurants you dine in to see and be seen, and others you go to because the food is absolutely yummy. And while you may see someone you know when you’re checking out the spectrum of taste treats at Yatai, their amazing Asian tapas are the main attraction. Although you might also be tempted by the drink specials Monday through Thursday.

The menu is so vast and varied it’s divided into 8 sections, not including the specials, which are indeed special. It would be easy to go back many times and never have the same meal twice. But some dishes are so spectacular you’d simply have to have them every time you go. Like the lobster dynamite roll or the tempura pumpkin.

We ordered our meal in three flights, allowing our needs and appetites to shift. This is one of the best things to me about tapas: flexibility. It’s also a good idea to order in shifts at Yatai because the portions are exceptional. We were continually (and pleasantly) surprised at the generosity of our dishes. It was also much appreciated that once we’d made our decisions, the chef thoughtfully determined the optimum order in which to serve each round.

Seated on the open, cozy patio, we started with cocktails, a Soju lychee mojito for Denise, and a Sakegria, with pineapple and lychee for me. For our first course, we checked out the jumbo softshell crab in a creamy chili sauce. Then there was that amazing pumpkin tempura, soft and smooth on the inside, wrapped in a light, crunchy batter and served with curry salt for dipping. Both offered hearty portions with plenty of crisp to ignite the taste buds.

Round two was the main event, beginning with Cajun seared tuna sashimi and sautéed mixed mushrooms and asparagus. Next came a truly unique creation, steamed cabbage in garlic plum sauce. Super-healthy and super-delicious all at the same time. One of the true highlights of the meal was lobster dynamite, a generous fresh crab and avocado roll smothered in a lobster cream sauce and baked golden brown. Wow! Eight totally decadent, and delicious mouthfuls.

Round three opened with crispy jumbo shrimp in a sharp red chili sauce, served under a layer of doughy wonton skin. And finally, bite-size rib-eye steak was tender and flavorful, a hearty finish to our seafood-centric meal.

Not that we had any appetite left to speak of, but where there’s a will, and a good dessert on the menu, there’s a way. So we topped off a spectacular meal at this cool Sunset Strip tapas bar with warm chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. A sweet finish to a spicy and flavorful meal at a restaurant that’s sure to become known as a real neighborhood favorite.

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